The California Assembly is currently considering Senate Bill 1221, legislation to outlaw the archaic and cruel practice of chasing bears and bobcats with packs of dogs. Assemblymember Mike Gatto, D-43, who represents the Burbank and Glendale areas, is in a position to make a real difference for the welfare of dogs and of wildlife.
“Hounding” is a practice where dogs outfitted with high-tech telemetry collars are released into the woods to run down bears and bobcats so that trophy hunters can easily shoot the exhausted, terrified animals off of tree limbs. During the chase, the hounds may catch and maul bear cubs, bobcats or other wild animals who get in the way. Dogs can become lost in the woods or severely injured during confrontations with wildlife.
SB 1221 will bring California in line with 14 other states that prohibit this unsporting practice, including states like Montana, which outlawed bear hounding in 1921 because it violates fair chase principles. The bill passed the Senate last month, but fell one vote short earlier this week in the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee. Assemblymember Gatto abstained. It’s time for this shameful practice to end in California.
The committee is expected to reconsider the measure on Monday, July 2. Please contact Assemblyman Gatto by calling his district office at (818) 558-3043 and urge him to take a stand for wildlife protection and against animal cruelty by voting “aye” on SB 1221.
Editor’s note: The writer is California senior state director of The Humane Society of the United States.